'...Tis the season to be grazing, fa la la la la, la la la la. The weight we'll gain will be amazing, fa la la la, la la la la. Don we now our stretchy sweat pants, fa la la la la, la la la la. We'll be eating tons of pecans...'

“We mirror the eating habits of those around us, so if he eats a lot, we eat a lot.” ~ source

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! A tad late as usual.

It’s my first day back at work and I am very excited about it. I broke all the codes of normal Chuwe behaviour at the end of last year and I actually took 2 weeks off work to do nothing but rest and be festive. My mind was exhausted and I knew pushing any further would result in a burn out. I would have paid good money to see the faces of some of my colleagues when I replied politely to the persistent emails and calls that I was on holiday and I did not have capacity to do any work *chuckles.* The workaholic in me had spoilt them.

The holiday was pure, unadulterated bliss. It was a delightful period of not knowing what day it was, sleeping at odd hours, sleeping in most days (the only time I woke up early was to go on wild life safaris but I made up for that trust me), no gym, babysitting an assortment of nephews and nieces regularly, eating every little (and big) thing my heart desired and zero heavy lifting for my brain. *sigh* #paradisefound

The result is I am well rested, 2kgs heavier than I was 3 weeks ago and excited for 2017. I sincerely hope you are too.

Although this post is coming in the wake of the festive period and its attendant “festive weight gain,” it is more about the general relationship between living with a partner and gaining weight. I have dubbed the latter, the love chub.

Over the years I have seen ample evidence of the love chub. Its simple. Girl meets lover. They fall in love. They become serious about each other. Girl puts on a little weight. They become even more serious about each other and decide to make things more permanent. They move in together. Girl puts on weight within the first few months.

I had my suspicions as to why. I figured, just from my own eating habits, that when you are single (read living alone), eating is not priority. I can’t count the number of times I skipped supper and went straight to bed because I was too tired to bother. When you live with someone who you love, as a girl, you tend to try to make sure that they have eaten. So you start to cook regularly and by default, to eat regularly. Of course, the body that got by with minimum food and lots of activity for years before that will get a shock and gain weight. Depending on whether you are alert to the change or not, you may put on an alarming amount of weight or you may adjust course accordingly and lose the love chub.

All this was just in my head until I decided to look up the phenomenon.  Turns out a couple of scientists not only noticed the same, they researched it in-depth. The love chub is scientifically proven! Maybe I should have been a scientist (as if!). Anyway, as one put it, settling into a relationship changes the dynamics of food. After you get married or move in together, eating can become central to how you spend time with your partner. You guys may spend time together by eating pizza and watching Netflix, having popcorn at the movies, or going out to dinner or for ice cream. Couples tend to become eating partners-in-crime, indulging (or overindulging) together as recreation. It makes sense, because most of us are raised to bond over food, and eating is tied to intimacy. (source) – I feel like this assessment was written about me.

In fact, large-scale experiments and assessments have shown that the more serious the relationship is, the more weight women gain. According to a study in Obesity, daters put on 15 pounds over five years, co-habitants packed on 18 pounds, and married women took the cake at 24 pounds.”

In addition to what I believed to be the reason, the following reasons have also been identified:

  1. eating out regularly (guilty); – When you’re single, dinner can be a bowl of cereal. Then you meet someone, and eating out practically becomes a hobby. The problem, University of Toronto researchers say, is that the average meal at a sit-down restaurant contains 1,128 calories, not counting apps or dessert. Factor in lazy mornings in bed followed by boozy brunches and you may need to buy those boyfriend jeans in a larger size.
  2.  stress eating (not guilty);
  3. relaxing because the stress of the wedding is behind you (I don’t know but I don’t think so); etc..

I suspect having a child has the same effect and some scientists agree. “Bringing up kids while trying to keep your house from looking like an episode of Hoarders means less time and energy for whipping up well-balanced meals. You may end up sneaking bites of macaroni and cheese off your kids’ plates in the evening, then eating a second dinner later with your husband.”

As if to confirm that men are from Mars, an  Ohio State study found that the risk of incurring a large weight gain is higher among men after a divorce and among women after marriage.

All this is to say, if you eat at the same rate that your husband eats, you will gain weight and he wont.

I am at the course correcting stage I mentioned earlier. Between suddenly eating full supper everyday (I bust out the Jedi Cooking Skills I didn’t know I had) and festive indulgences, I am in danger of becoming a marriage statistic *chuckles.*

The solutions are pretty simple:

  • Get back into my normal exercise routine but increase the intensity to compensate for the increased food intake. For me this means that instead of going to the gym 3-4 times a week, I will have to go to the gym 5-6 times a week. Maybe a personal trainer… I’m considering it.
  • Not mirroring his plate – men burn far more calories than women in the normal course so he wont gain weight from the plate that will make you fat. Customise the quantities and types of food you eat to meet your needs.
  • Don’t eat because he is eating. If you are not hungry, then just sit and talk to him and drink tea or something.
  • Stop eating the 500g T-Bone with fries every time we eat out *chuckles*

For now… January jogging here I come… I’ll let you know if I beat the statistics at the end of the month.

I just have to add that I thoroughly enjoyed writing this. I chuckled my way through most of it. If I had known holidays were this good for my temperament, I would have taken one ages ago.

DISCLAIMER – In case it’s not crystal clear from the title of this series, I am an amateur wife with little to offer in the way of tried and tested knowledge and advice. I’m just a newly wed woman trying to figure out this marriage thing. This is just how it’s going for me.  The purpose of this series is to chronicle what I hope will be a journey filled with character down the marriage path. Will I fall flat on  my face here and there? I have no doubt. Will I get some things right? Absolutely. Will I spend majority of the time winging it? Probably. Maybe one day my daughter will read this and she may not have to wing a thing or two. Who knows?